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KMFDM

Sascha Konietzko performing with KMFDM in Lawrence, Kansas, October 2005
Background information
Origin Hamburg, Germany
Genres Industrial rock, industrial metal, electro-industrial
Years active 1984–1999
2002–present
Labels Z, Skysaw, Wax Trax!, Metropolis, Sanctuary, KMFDM
Associated acts MDFMK, Excessive Force, PIG, KGC, Slick Idiot, The Spittin' Cobras
Website Official website
Members
Sascha Konietzko
Lucia Cifarelli
Jules Hodgson
Andy Selway
Steve White
Former members
Mark Durante
En Esch
Bill Rieflin
Günter Schulz
Tim Skold
Raymond Watts

KMFDM is an industrial metal band led by founding member Sascha Konietzko, who started the group as a performance art project. There have been a number of line-up changes over the years, including a temporary disbandment from 1999–2002, with Konietzko being the only constant.

Since their founding in 1984, they have released sixteen studio albums. They had sold approximately 2 million records in the United States alone as of September 2003,[1] with multiple albums selling more than 100,000 copies and a number of singles becoming club hits.

They have been mentioned in connection with a number of school shooting controversies, but have repeatedly distanced themselves from any incitements to violence.

Contents

History

Formation

KMFDM was founded in Paris, France on February 29, 1984[2][3] as a joint effort between Konietzko and German painter/multi-media performer Udo Sturm to perform for the opening of an exhibition of young European artists at the Grand Palais. Sturm had no lasting musical aspirations, and Konietzko was more interested in studio recordings than the occasional art performance, so he began collaborating with then-Hamburg-based studio owner Raymond Watts and drummer Nicklaus Schandelmaier,[4] who adopted the stage name En Esch.

Early Years in Germany

After working the Hamburg underground music scene and releasing albums on European labels, the band began its long-standing relationship with Wax Trax! Records when their 1988 album Don't Blow Your Top was licensed to the label for US distribution. Watts left the band at this time to start his own project, Pig.[5] After arriving in America for the first time on December 16, 1989,[6] KMFDM toured the U.S. with Ministry in 1990 in support of their fourth album, UAIOE,[3] which was licensed for distribution in both the U.S. and Europe. They returned to Europe to record their fifth album, Naïve,[3] which included the debut of long-time guitarist Günter Schulz, known as Svetlana Ambrosius at the time. They signed directly to Wax Trax![3] to distribute this album.

Early Success in America

Konietzko then moved to Chicago in early 1991,[3][7] and Esch followed a year later. KMFDM quickly became a part of the industrial music scene in Chicago that included Ministry, Front 242 and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, along with many others. In 1991, they released the single "Split", which was their first club hit, reaching #46 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart.[8] During this time, Konietzko and Esch began working on their halves of what would have been their sixth album, Apart, but became two separate albums. The official KMFDM album used Sascha's material, and was renamed Money. It spawned two more club hits in 1992, first "Vogue", their biggest club hit, which reached #19 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart in April,[8] and then the title track, which reached #36 on that same chart in July.[8]

After touring in late 1992 with drummer Chris Vrenna,[9] the then-core of KMFDM (Konietzko, Esch, Schulz, and second guitarist Mark Durante), went back into the studio as a group to record their seventh album, Angst, in 1993, which went on to sell more than 100,000 copies over the next two years.[4] KMFDM received their first exposure to the mainstream with their single "A Drug Against War". Despite the band's anti-MTV,[10] "anti-mainstream" attitude, the video of "A Drug Against War" received airplay on MTV[2] and was even featured on the MTV cartoon Beavis and Butt-head.[11] On March 1, 2010, it was made available as a downloadable song for the game Rock Band.[12] Meanwhile, the track "Light" reached #31 on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart in May 1994.[8]

The Era of Guest Artists

Raymond Watts rejoined the band to work on their eighth album, Nihil, which sold over 119,000 copies within fourteen months of its release.[13] It also featured KMFDM's most widely known song, "Juke Joint Jezebel", which was featured on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack, which peaked at #10 on the Billboard 200[14] and sold 1.8 million copies.[15] On February 20, 2010, "Juke Joint Jezebel" was made available as a downloadable song for the game Rock Band.[16]

Watts also toured with KMFDM throughout 1995. Nihil also marked the first contributions by drummer Bill Rieflin, who would also work with the band on their next five albums. In late 1995, close friend and president of Wax Trax! Records Jim Nash died of an illness complicated by AIDS,[17] and KMFDM relocated to Seattle, Washington. Watts left the band after that to continue work on Pig.

En Esch also separated from the group temporarily, and Xtort was created in 1996 with almost no participation from him. Instead, Sascha brought in a number of other industrial artists, such as F.M. Einheit and Chris Connelly, to assist with the album.[18] Xtort was the first KMFDM album to chart on the Billboard 200, and it was also the highest charting KMFDM album ever, reaching #92,[19] and selling more than 200,000 copies.[20]

En Esch was back for the Symbols album, which was released in 1997, and featured Nivek Ogre and Abby Travis.[21] Symbols reached #137 on the Billboard 200.[19]

Skold Joins KMFDM

Tim Skold helped write "Anarchy" for the Symbols album,[22] and toured with them in 1997,[23] becoming a full member of the band after that. He assisted in the writing of almost every song of KMFDM's final album of their original era, 1999's Adios(#189 on the Billboard 200[19]), which featured Ogre again, as well as a track with Nina Hagen, while Esch and Schulz did almost no writing, and only made minor contributions.

Break-up, MDFMK, and reformation

Steve White and Lucia Cifarelli performing with KMFDM in October 2005. White and Cifarelli joined the band following its reformation in 2002.

KMFDM disbanded, albeit temporarily, on January 22, 1999. According to Sascha Konietzko, the split was due to "a deep rift between some of the co-members and unsurmountable difference regarding visions and objectives for a possible future."[24] The album Adios was released three months later, with the title originally intended to symbolize the band's departure from the Wax Trax! label, but later signaling the break-up of the band itself. Günter Schulz and En Esch formed the band Slick Idiot, and Konietzko and Tim Skold temporarily regrouped as MDFMK with the addition of singer Lucia Cifarelli. MDFMK released one self-titled album with Republic/Universal Records and toured in the United States and Japan. KMFDM reformed in 2002 with Konietzko, Skold, Cifarelli, and former collaborators Raymond Watts and Bill Rieflin. According to Konietzko, Schulz and Esch were invited to rejoin the band but declined.[25]

Modern Era

Skold left after Attak to join Marilyn Manson. Meanwhile, Watts' bandmates from Pig joined KMFDM one by one, with Jules Hodgson playing guitars on a couple tracks of 2002's Attak,[26] Andy Selway showing up as the drummer for WWIII,[27] which was released the following year, and Steve White helping with Hau Ruck after touring with the band.[28] Tohuvabohu, featuring the first consistent band line-up in years, was released in 2007. Konietzko and Cifarelli moved to Hamburg, Germany,[29] and KMFDM's sixteenth studio album, Blitz, was released on March 24, 2009, once again featuring contributions from Skold and less from the band members not living in Germany. All four of KMFDM's most recent albums have charted in the top ten on Billboard's Dance/Electronic Albums Chart.[30]

Members

Current members

The current official line-up[31] of KMFDM consists of:

Key Former Members

En Esch, Raymond Watts, Günter Schulz, and Tim Skold are notable key members in the band's history. Although Skold contributed to Blitz,[32] nothing has been stated on the band's website that he has returned to the band permanently.

Other Contributors

Other notable musicians that have contributed to KMFDM projects include Mark Durante, Bill Rieflin of Ministry/R.E.M., Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy and ohGr, John DeSalvo of Chemlab, F. M. Einheit of Einstürzende Neubauten, Nina Hagen, and spoken word artist Nicole Blackman. Additionally, Chemlab, Die Warzau, Nine Inch Nails, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Combichrist and Giorgio Moroder have remixed music for KMFDM.

Musical style

While recognized within the ranks of Nitzer Ebb, Ministry, and Skinny Puppy as pioneers in introducing industrial music to mainstream audiences, KMFDM describes their sound as "The Ultra-Heavy Beat".<ref="dunedin">"The Dunedin Free Press - KMFDM". http://dunedinfreepress.com/kmfdm2.htm. Retrieved December 29th, 2009. </ref>) KMFDM's earliest output is more accurately described as performance art, as Konietzko incorporated not only visuals (such as burning beds and exploding televisions[4]), but non-musical devices as instruments (e.g. vacuum cleaners[4][33]<ref="dunedin"/>). Their albums from the 1980s featured heavy sampling and studio manipulations, and the primary instruments used were synthesizers and drum machines. With the addition of guitarist Günter Schulz, KMFDM shifted to a more industrial metal style,[34] with heavy guitar riffs driving their sound.

Since the release of 1989's UAIOE, KMFDM's music has been a fusion of electronic and heavy metal, with occasional elements of reggae, ska, and even rap. Many songs feature prominent backing vocals by female singers, notably Dorona Alberti, Cheryl Wilson, Christine Siewart, Sigrid Meyer, Jennifer Ginsberg, Abby Travis, and Lucia Cifarelli. Frequent KMFDM contributor Raymond Watts incorporates the style of his own musical project PIG, which features macabre lyrics, guttural vocals, and heavy, guitar-laden arrangements.

After the band's three-year hiatus which ended in 2002, KMFDM adopted a more "traditional" rock sound, that is, recording and performing with a typical band lineup — lead vocalist, lead and rhythm guitarists, bassist, and drummer — while continuing to incorporate electronics and sampling.[25]

From KMFDM's inception, the band has been "politically charged", according to Konietzko.[1] Their lyrics typically call for the rejection of and resistance to terrorism, violence, oppression, censorship, and, most explicitly, war. Their songs often feature samples of news broadcasts and speeches by political leaders, usually in an expression of irony.

KMFDM is not without a sense of humor, however. Nearly every album features a song in which they lampoon themselves, particularly evident in the lyrics to "More & Faster", "Sucks", "Light", "Inane", "Bitches", "Intro", and "Megalomaniac". Their knack for self-parody came to a head in 2003 with the song "Intro" from the album WWIII, in which Konietzko takes a jab at each band member — including himself — with a tongue-in-cheek and slightly irreverent verse.

Konietzko has cited T.Rex,[20] David Bowie, and Frank Zappa[6] as inspiration in the early stages of KMFDM. Zappa is heavily referenced on the albums Don't Blow Your Top and UAIOE.[35]

Touring and Fanbase

KMFDM guitarist Jules Hodgson

KMFDM has put on an album on average every year and a half, and usually tours at least once in support of each album. Previously confined to touring the United States and only portions of Europe and Japan, KMFDM embarked on a 2004 world tour in which they performed in Australia, Russia, Canada, and much of Europe in addition to the US.[36]

KMFDM has a history of personal interaction with their fans. Konietzko and most KMFDM members both past and present often converse with fans via e-mail and chat rooms.[37] At most concert venues, KMFDM typically mingles with the fans before and after the show to sign autographs, pose for photos, and answer questions. Konietzko and the band's representatives have experimented with ways for fans to interact directly with the band. In 2002, KMFDM launched the "Horde", an exclusive fan club in which members had the opportunity to attend a private meet-and-greet with the band before every show, as well as gaining access to members-only music and footage online. In 2004, they experimented with "fankam", a project in which a member of the audience was selected to record that night's show, as well as some back-stage antics, with a hand-held digital video camera. The resulting footage was incorporated into the 20th Anniversary World Tour DVD the following year, which also included fan photos submitted to the KMFDM official website. In March 2007, KMFDM encouraged fans to call a special "FanPhone" and leave a voice message.[38] The song "Superpower" from 2007's Tohuvabohu includes sound-clips from these messages.[39]

During the summer of 2006, Metropolis Records announced that it would reissue KMFDM's entire Wax Trax!-era studio album back catalog, which had been out of print since the early 2000s. The albums were released in chronological order in groups of two or three every couple months from September 2006 to May 2007, and are now all back in print.[40]

Etymology

The cover of 84-86, featuring the original stamp used by KMFDM in 1984.

KMFDM is an initialism for the nonsensical and grammatically incorrect German phrase "Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid", which literally translates as "no majority for the pity" but is typically given the loose translation of "no pity for the majority" or "no mercy for the masses". The most common account of the origin of the name involves Konietzko cutting headlines from German newspapers and shuffling around the words to produce the now infamous expression.[41] The name was shortened to "KMFDM" in 1985 in order to simplify the long phrase, with one popular account having Raymond Watts originating the initialism to avoid the difficulties he had in pronouncing the German.

Confusion often arises regarding the correct German expansion of the acronym, primarily stemming from the aforementioned language issues. In German, nouns possess genders that require proper declension of any preceding articles or adjectives. In the true phrase, the articles preceding the nouns "Mehrheit" and "Mitleid" are inflected for the wrong gender. However, swapping the two nouns yields the grammatically correct "Kein Mitleid Für Die Mehrheit", which additionally translates directly as "no pity for the majority". Adding to the confusion is the fact that this "correct" phrase appears within the lyrics to the song "Megalomaniac", which Konietzko revealed was done in order to confuse people who were always telling the band their name was wrong.[42]

When the band first toured the United States in 1989–1990, band members and their associates began using alternate English meanings for their name to tease journalists who did not understand German. After the release of Angst, TVT/Wax Trax! Records launched a promotion (without consent of the band) in which fans were encouraged to come up with at least 1,001 different meanings for KMFDM. College radio DJs Kinslow and Smith of WKGC Florida won the contest with an entry of more than 1,200 potential meanings.[43]

The lyrics to the song "Moron" feature a slight variant of the traditional translation: "no pity for the masses". Likewise, the song "Light" reveals another possible alternate meaning: "Keiner macht für dich mehr", which translates as "no-one does more for you". This is consistent with the chorus of the song: "What we do for you / so good for you". However, the line can also be interpreted as a grammatically incorrect version of (or misheared as) "Keine Macht für dich mehr", translating as "no power for you anymore". In German "macht" (lowercase m) is the verb "to make" or "to do", whereas "Macht" (uppercase M) is the noun "power", "force" or "might" (feminine gender, resulting in the omitted "r" in "Keine").

Controversy

Copyright infringement

The song "Liebeslied" from KMFDM's 1990 album Naïve contains an unlicensed sample of "O Fortuna" from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.[3] The band was threatened with legal action by Orff's publisher (Orff himself died in 1982), and the album was withdrawn from production in 1993. The following year, a new version of the album was released entitled Naïve/Hell to Go,[3] containing remixes of several songs, including the offending track (with the sample removed) which was renamed "Leibesleid (Infringement Mix)" (the modified name is a play of words in German: Liebeslied = "love song", Leibesleid = "physical pain"). Consequently, the original release of Naïve has become highly collectible among KMFDM fans. KMFDM still occasionally performs the original version of "Liebeslied" in concert. Live versions, complete with the controversial sample, can be accessed on both the Beat by Beat by Beat and 20th Anniversary World Tour 2004 DVDs.

School shootings

In wake of the Columbine High School massacre it was revealed that lyrics to KMFDM songs ("Anarchy", "Power", "Son of a Gun", "Stray Bullet", "Waste") were posted on the website of shooter Eric Harris, and that the massacre coincided with the release date of the album Adios and the birthday of Adolf Hitler. The media was quick to jump on the apparent connection of the massacre to violent entertainment and Nazism. In response, Konietzko issued a statement the following day:

First and foremost, KMFDM would like to express their deep and heartfelt sympathy for the parents, families and friends of the murdered and injured children in Littleton. We are sick and appalled, as is the rest of the nation, by what took place in Colorado yesterday.

KMFDM are an art form — not a political party. From the beginning, our music has been a statement against war, oppression, fascism and violence against others. While some of the former band members are German as reported in the media, none of us condone any Nazi beliefs whatsoever.[44]

Following the Finnish school shootings of 2007 and 2008, some media reports again attempted to draw a connection from the shooters to the band, noting that both listed KMFDM among their favorite bands.[45][46] Konietzko, in an interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK shortly after the 2008 incident, refuted any claims of connection as being purely a by-product of the copycat mentality and the Finnish shooters' desire to emulate the lifestyles and actions of the Columbine shooters:

[...] There is this very strange phenomenon [of] copycatting. It's just really bizarre. I mean, someone commits a heinous crime or an atrocity or something, and then there will be people that think it's the coolest thing, and they repeat it. [...] These kids back in Columbine that massacred their school, they were fans of this type of music or this type of clothing, so the people that do similar things now, they like this kind of music not because they like the music, but because they liked the music.[47]

Album artwork

KMFDM has a long-standing relationship with commercial artist Aidan "Brute!" Hughes, who creates the iconic artwork adorning almost all of the band's albums and singles. Brute!'s artwork is also featured in KMFDM's music videos for "A Drug Against War" and "Son of a Gun", and on the band's promotional t-shirts.[48] In an interview with Brian Sherwin, Brute! stated, "KMFDM have cornered the market in industrial post-modern angst and so my work reflects that."[49]

Prior to the 2006–2007 remastering and rerelease of KMFDM's back catalog, the design and packaging of the albums were inconsistent. Upon their release on KMFDM Records, they were repackaged by designer Justin Gammon to be visually similar. These changes included standard organization of the liner notes, lyrics, photos, and songwriting/guest musician credits.

The cover of the album Nihil was designed by Francesca Sundsten,[50] wife of drummer Bill Rieflin.

KMFDM "code"

The symbols that served as the title of KMFDM's tenth album.

Since the release of UAIOE, KMFDM has followed a pattern of naming their albums and certain songs with a single five-letter word. They have even misspelled word in order to get them to fit into five letters, e.g. Xtort and Attak.

In 1997, they took the concept a step further by adopting five unpronounceable symbols as the album's official title (see image), imitating similar stunts previously done by Led Zeppelin (see Led Zeppelin IV) and Prince (see Love Symbol). The band, fans, and record executives alike simply referred to the album as Symbols out of convenience,[51] although En Esch said the title was meant to be "like a curse out of a comic book,"[24] alluding to the symbols used in comics to indicate profanity. This five-symbol word is also apparently used in the song "Down and Out" according to the printed lyrics included with the album;[52] however, it is bleeped out of the recording the way one would bleep out a "curse" word.

The tradition of five-letter-word album titles was broken in 2005 with the release of their fourteenth studio album, Hau Ruck, which is the German equivalent to "Heave Ho". The original title of the album was to be FUBAR which would have adhered to their tradition.[53] None of the album's song titles are five letter words. The next album, Tohuvabohu, did not contain 5 letters but it did contain 5 syllables. The band resumed the tradition with Blitz and Krieg.

Discography

Side projects

Members of KMFDM have either fronted or supported several side projects throughout the band's activity, often simultaneously with their work in KMFDM. Former members have also formed new groups.

  • Excessive Force – Sascha Konietzko, En Esch, Günter Schulz, Mark Durante (1991–1994) [54]
  • MDFMK – Formed by Sascha Konietzko, Tim Skold, and Lucia Cifarelli during KMFDM's hiatus (2000–2001)
  • PIG – Raymond Watts (1988– ) [55](PIG members Jules Hodgson, Andy Selway, and Steve White joined KMFDM in 2002), Günter Schulz (touring guitarist 2006– )
  • Schaft – Raymond Watts (1994)
  • Schwein – Raymond Watts, Sascha Konietzko, Jules Hodgson, Steve White, Lucia Cifarelli (2001) [56]
  • Pigface – En Esch (1990–1993, 1999–2005), Günter Schulz (1999–2005) [57]
  • Slick Idiot – Formed by En Esch and Günter Schulz following the 1999 break-up of KMFDM (1999– ) [58]
  • Schulz – Günter Schulz's spin-off of Slick Idiot (2005– )[59][60]
  • KGC – Sascha Konietzko, Lucia Cifarelli (2006)[61]
  • The Spittin' Cobras – Jules Hodgson, Andy Selway (2009– )[62]
  • En Esch released the solo album Cheesy in 1993
  • Drill – was fronted by Lucia Cifarelli prior to her involvement with KMFDM/MDFMK.
  • Lucia Cifarelli released the solo album From the Land of Volcanos in 2004.
  • Skold was a solo album released by Tim Skold in 1996, prior to his involvement with KMFDM.

Bibliography

  • Di Perna, Alan (1995). Jackhammer of the Gods. Guitar World, 15(6), 54-59, 61-62, 67, 69, 71.

References

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  40. ^ KMFDM Records
  41. ^ Herrera, Anthony; B., Roshi (2005-01-04). "KMFDM Biography". KMFDM.BiohazardMusic.com. AlliancePacificaProductions. http://kmfdm.biohazardmusic.com/bio.html. Retrieved June 16, 2006. 
  42. ^ "KMFDM" (in German). Entry Magazin. 1997. http://www.entry-magazin.de/IntervKMFDM.htm. Retrieved June 20, 2006. 
  43. ^ "What does KMFDM stand for?". SonicEnvelope.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. http://web.archive.org/web/20071009101108/http://www.sonicenvelope.com/thread2.html. Retrieved 2006-06-16. 
  44. ^ Cross, Jody; Hammonds, Josh (2003-12-08). "KMFDM FAQ". http://www.kmfdmfaq.com/faq.htm#V:8. Retrieved June 16, 2006. 
  45. ^ Black, Phil (2007-11-08). "Finland in mourning after fatal school shooting". cnn.com. http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/11/08/school.shooting/index.html. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  46. ^ Suoninen, Sakari (2008-09-23). "Finland school gunman touted misanthropy on Internet". National Post. Reuters. http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=821859. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  47. ^ Konietzko, Sascha (speaker). (September 2008) (asf). KMFDM - Sascha Konietzko om skolemassakrene. [Streaming audio]. Oslo, Norway: NRK - Norsk Rikskringkasting. Event occurs at 1:51, 4:05. http://www1.nrk.no/nett-tv/klipp/418313. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  48. ^ Brute! Propaganda
  49. ^ Sherwin, Brian (December 2008). "Art Space Talk: Aidan Hughes". http://www.myartspace.com/blog/2008/12/art-space-talk-aidan-hughes.html. Retrieved March 2nd, 2010. 
  50. ^ "Francesca Sundsten Bio". Jenkins Johnson Gallery. http://www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com/artists/sundsten/SUNDSTEN_bio.pdf. Retrieved March 2nd, 2010. 
  51. ^ "KMFDM Albums List". KMFDM.net. http://www.kmfdm.net/discography/albums.htm. Retrieved March 3rd, 2010. 
  52. ^ Symbols Liner Notes
  53. ^ "KMFDM "Heavy Ho!"". Side Line Music Magazine. April 10th, 2006. http://www.side-line.com/interviews_comments.php?id=13584_0_16_0_C. Retrieved March 3rd, 2010. 
  54. ^ Excessive Force at MySpace
  55. ^ Pig at MySpace
  56. ^ Schwein at MySpace
  57. ^ Pigface at MySpace
  58. ^ Slick Idiot at MySpace
  59. ^ "Schulz". http://www.schulzmusic.com/home.htm. Retrieved June 16, 2006. 
  60. ^ Schulz at MySpace
  61. ^ KGC at MySpace
  62. ^ The Spitting Cobras at MySpace

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

KMFDM is an industrial rock band and the brainchild of founding member Sascha Konietzko. KMFDM was founded in Paris on 1984-02-29 as a joint effort between Konietzko and German painter/multi-media performer Udo Sturm to perform for the opening of an exhibition of young European artists at the Grand Palais.[citation needed]

Sourced

  • I can't reject this empty hole / I cannot count the bloody cost / I can't believe this wretched soul
    • "Juke Joint Jezebel"
  • KMFDM better than the best / Megalomaniacal and harder than the rest
    • "Megalomaniacal"
  • "Rip the system"
    • Sascha Konietzko
  • Monolithic juggernaut I'm the illegitimate son of god
    • Stray Bullet
  • Revenge is a dish that's best served cold
    • "Revenge"
  • Wake me up in anarchy.
    • "Anarchy"

External links

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